Most cats are secretly genius. As a pet parent, chances are you just accept this theory as a clear fact. But even if your feline is a regular Einstein, coming up with unique, challenging ways to keep them stimulated can be a problem. The best toys for smart cats help to bridge this gap, and are designed to keep pets physically and mentally active in creative ways.
Puzzles and interactive toys are the best way to go if you're eager to get your four-legged pal thinking outside the box. Toys that dispense treats, but only after pets figure out how to get them out, can be a great option since they reward sharp thinking and also help to curve overeating habits (if that's a struggle for your cat).
Contrary to popular belief, curiosity didn't kill the cat. Instead, it just made your cat way smarter. With the help of my list of the best interactive toys, you can nurture your cat's inner-brainiac while also giving them an outlet to burn off any extra energy. So whether you're around to share in the fun or your not, your cat has ways to play all day — and use their imagination, too.
1. The Best Food Maze
Catit Design Senses Food Maze
Looking for a clever way to stimulate your pet's natural pawing instincts and give them treats in the process? Look out, because this food maze from Catit is about to change everything. Great for cats that love interactive games, this tray offers various levels of difficulty and is designed to not only challenge your cat's mind but also reward them for a job well-done.
Built with side cut-outs so your cat can paw through the maze and grab at food with ease, this maze can also help slow pets down when it comes to nibbling on food, so if you have a cat that eats too quickly, this may help with that problem in a big way.
2. The Best Activity Center
SnugglyCat The Ripple Rug
There's a lot more to this deceptively innovative cat activity rug than meets the eye. Created to let your fur kids scratch, claw, and generally make a mess of things, this carpet is pocked with holes and safety slits that allow cats to leap right in. Made from recycled plastic bottles, this rug is totally hypoallergenic and resistant to mold, mildew, and stains, plus it comes with a thermal base that not only keeps pets warm but also provides a supportive layer for rest.
Ideal for homes with multiple cats, it also has a non-slip coating, so it can stay in place, and you can shape and configure it to fit your pet's preferred type of play. One reviewer raved: "Usually [my cats] get bored with some of their interactive toys, but not so with the ripple rug. I can form new tunnels and caves, so it is always changing. I throw toys in the holes, they bat at each other from both sides, and even sleep inside."
3. The Best Laser Pointer
Friends Forever Interactive Cat Laser Toy
Sleekly assembled with a diamond-like top, this automatic laser pointer runs a beam in endless directions (360 degrees, in fact). Since this automatically shuts off after 15 minutes, you also don't have to worry about overextending your pet. "[Compared] to the laser pen, it's much easier to use, and you can free your hands to do other house work," wrote one reviewer. "My cat is having a lot of fun of chasing the laser point, and I could just watch him play while I'm laying on my [couch]."
4. The Best Toy Box
SmartCat Peek and Play Toy Box
Similar to the treat box revealed earlier but boasting a few key differences, this feline toy box hides all kinds of thrilling stuff that your cat will have to paw at to both find and use. Made from heavy-duty wood, this box is durable enough that it'll survive all kinds of intense play. As your cat works their way to the toys inside, they'll be thinking sharply, which in turn can help cater to a pet's adventurous side.
5. The Best (And Weirdest) Robotic Toy
HEXBUG Nano Robotic Cat Toy
While a feathery bug-like creature that moves around on its own may sound bizarre, there's one thing you can't dispute about this HEXBUG nano robotic toy: smart cats really love it. Designed to catch a cat's eye, it can flip over back onto its feet when it's trying to escape, plus it scampers and scurries and vibrates, so cats can play with it even when you're not around.
"My cat was absolutely fascinated with this toy," wrote one reviewer. "She doesn't attack it, but follows it....I'm not sure she quite has it figured out ... it keeps the kitty busy and engaged and she likes anything with a feather." The only downside to this toy is that it's more effective on tile and hardwood, so if you've got carpets, you may want to avoid it.
6. The Best Toy Track And Ball Toy
Magic Cat Track and Ball Toy
For cats that love a good hunt but don't want to run around the house to get their fix, this track and ball toy is a must-have. It comes with 82 pieces of super-flexible track, which you can disconnect and snap together to create a design that's one-of-a-kind. Balls go inside the track and whip around it as your cat bats them.
Reviewers say it's especially good for older pets and will keep felines occupied for hours, which is crucial if you're out of the house for long periods of time. "My small, older kitty loves this!" wrote one reviewer. "She's old, but she still plays like a kitten. Some reviewers say it isn't strong enough, or the balls are too small. That might be true for stronger kitties, but for my little gal it is perfect."
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